LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – The director of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force is asking for help in finding the source of some deadly and dangerous drugs circulating through the county.
These drugs are killing people at a rate much higher than normal — four in the last six days.
So far, police haven’t been able to find the one thing that links them all together.
At Lisbon’s Family Recovery Center Wednesday afternoon, addiction counselors Laura Martin and Tawnia Jenkins were not surprised by the recent rash of overdoses and deaths in the county.
“We see the trends and it is getting worse out there,” Jenkins said. “They’re mixing that fentanyl with everything from methamphetamines, amphetamines.”
“As we’re sitting here speaking, I got goosebumps thinking about 12 lives that are families that are destroyed,” Martin said.
Since Friday, 12 people have overdosed in Columbiana County and four have overdosed and died. Two of the deaths were in East Liverpool, along with one each in Lisbon and Salem. They were two men and two women, ranging in age from late 20s to 60s.
“That’s what’s kind of making it more difficult,” said Lt. Brian McLaughlin, who directs the Columbiana County Drug Task Force. “If it was one spot, I think we could probably narrow it down to one source.”
McLaughlin has an idea of where the drugs are coming from.
“I just wonder if two of our local sources aren’t getting their same supplier or something like that, but we’re trying to work to that,” he said.
At the Family Recovery Center, the magnitude of Columbiana County’s drug problem is in how the client list has grown.
“Last year, at the end of the fiscal year, we had 70 clients. We now have 124,” Martin said.
On the desk was a Project DAWN Kit — it’s two doses of naloxone ready to save someone from overdosing.
The Family Recovery Center gives away 80 to 100 kits a month but in July, it handed out 194.
If not for naloxone, the number of reported overdoses since Friday would have likely been higher. Since people can use naloxone to revive someone, they’re less likely to report the overdose.
“When we first started this project, we had a lot of resistance and people did not want this,” Jenkins said.
She said as the drug epidemic progresses through the communities, it hits home for a lot more people.
Columbiana County has seen a total of 23 overdose deaths so far this year, with seven cases pending. The county had 25 in both 2017 and 2018.
Mahoning County has had 80 overdose deaths so far this year. Last year at this time, it was 86 and the year before, it was 94 — so numbers are down.
As of mid-September, Trumbull County had 60 overdose deaths — up from 37 at this time last year and close to the 65 from 2017.
Mercer County has recorded 32 overdose deaths so far this year. Coroner John Libonati expects a 20% drop from last year.